The Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit was involved in two successful rescue efforts this weekend, both of which exemplified the problems hikers can encounter when they go off on trek without being fully prepared.
The first started about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12, after the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway received a call from three lost hikers. According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department press release, the hikers, who reside in the city of Irvine, were identified as Keith Irvine, Ali Deway and Matt Ashcraft, all in their 20s and wearing summer clothing.
They were stranded at the 7,000-foot elevation, at the base of a steep incline near Skyline Trail, and were unable to hike down.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit located the hikers and dropped cold-weather clothing and sleeping bags for their use in case the RMRU team could not reach them that night.
RMRU members Les Walker and Eric Holden took the tram to the top and then hiked down to the lost hikers. They connected about 10 p.m. RMRU guided them to the tram where they spent the night.
On Sunday morning, all took the first tram down to the base and left without any medical problems.
The second rescue started about an hour after the first. RMRU was notified that two hikers, a male and female, were lost on the Marion Mountain Trail. RMRU members Lee Arnson and Helene Lohr responded.
“At first we were thinking it was serious. But one of the hikers got cell service and described their location,” Arnson said. They were at the Marion Mountain campground — only 10 minutes away. “They felt genuinely lost.”
“They did the right thing,” Arnson stressed. “They stayed in one place.” They had no headlight, no topographical maps, inappropriate clothing and not enough water. “They completely underestimated the trail,” said Lohr.
The three young men lost on the Skyline Trail did not have enough water and were wearing T-shirts and shorts, according to Arnson.
“People get confused and are not prepared for the steepness of the [Skyline] Trail, the steepest in North America,” Walker said.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department reminds hiking enthusiasts to carry proper equipment for any outdoor excursion. Proper preparedness includes a well thought-out travel plan shared with friends and family, as well as familiarity with common hiking equipment, such as GPS, maps and compasses, proper clothing and plenty of water.
RMRU offers several helpful, lifesaving tips at its website, www.rmru.org.